Most of us can avoid Chicago’s frigid temperatures just by staying home.
But for those experiencing homelessness, the solution is not that simple.
Local organizations work directly with those individuals, hoping to provide relief and find long-term solutions.
Ahead of the subzero temperatures, Mark Ishaug, CEO of Thresholds, said the organization anticipated the cold weather and was able to plan early. Thresholds was able to gather a team of about 25 volunteers who brought people to warming shelters or motels and offered support.
“We saved lives this weekend,” Ishaug said. “And that was our goal.”
Many groups like Thresholds are looking to the Bring Chicago Home ballot measure — which would change the real estate transfer tax in order to raise revenue to house the homeless — as the way forward.
Faith leaders across the city, like the Rev. Jacqueline Triche Atkins, have also gathered to support the measure. She said their coalition encompasses a wide range of people looking for solutions.
“We have churches, we have institutions, we have Jewish, we have Muslim, all of the institutions are coming together,” Atkins said. “Because we believe, you know, there’s somebody that said, ‘House the homeless, feed the hungry,’ and we’re working by sharing this information with our congregations and with the communities.”
“We need to work toward a resolution of the problem,” Atkins added.
For those who want to help the efforts, Ishaug said donating to food pantries or organizations is one way to assist.
“I think we have to recognize that people who are unsheltered or unhoused, they’re human beings just like the rest of us, that luckily happen to be, by the grace of God, housed,” Ishaug said. “And so to treat people with kindness and respect and love, acknowledge them when you see them, if you can help them if you can give them money for food, or if you have a blanket or if you have something, but try to do whatever you can.”